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We always hear the sins of the mother are passed on the son, but now researchers believe the stress of the father may be passed on to the daughter. It appears that a woman’s risk of developing abnormal social behavior and anxiety may be partly due to the events which took place in her father’s life when he was younger.
When young men are exposed to unstable lifestyles, their sperm changes and the risk for anxiety increases as they get older not only for themselves but also for their future daughters.
“The long term effects of stress can be pernicious. We first found that adolescent mice exposed to chronic social instability, where the cage composition of mice is constantly changing, exhibited anxious behavior and poor social interactions throughout adulthood. These changes were especially prominent in female mice,” said Lorena Saavedra-Rodriguez, PhD, from Larry Feig laboratory at TUSM.
Researchers looked at the behavior of all the stressed fathers’ offspring. They found that the girl mice, much more than the boy mice, showed signs of anxious behavior and abnormal social communication. Although the boy mice didn’t show signs of stress, their daughters did meaning the stress passed through to the next generation.
“We are presently searching for biochemical changes in the sperm of stressed fathers that could account for this newly appreciated form of inheritance. Hopefully, this work will stimulate efforts to determine whether similar phenomena occur in humans,” explained Larry A. Feig, PhD, and lead author of the study.
Source: MedicalNewsToday, Biological Psychiatry
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